City ready for maritime commemorations

Liverpool is to take centre stage as host of the national commemorations for the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.

From Friday 24 until Tuesday 28 May activities will take place on the waterfront and in the city centre in tribute to the men and women involved in the longest continuous military campaign of Word War II.

From a veterans parades, Lindy Hop flash mobs, a fly past and action packed displays, right through to more than 20 warships arriving in the city – it will be an unmissable bank holiday weekend for all the family.

On 25 and 26 May, from 9.30pm until midnight, two high intensity lasers projected from the Liver Building, transmitting the phrase ‘Thank You’ in Morse Code. This is a nod to British mathematical genius Alan Turing, who helped crack the Enigma Code which saved many lives during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Craig Morrison, the artist responsible for the work, said: “I am thrilled to be showing my Light work, Thank You, at The Battle of the Atlantic Commemorations.

“The lasers will pulse into the heavens, and I sincerely hope that it will provide a fitting memorial to all the men and women who gave their lives in the Second World War.”

From Saturday until Monday from 11am to 5pm, there is a packed programme of events, including a model boat exhibition inside the Liver Building. Many of the vessels lining the waterfront will be open to visitors and a dramatic Battle of the Mersey will see Royal Marine Commandos carry out a fast-roping rescue exercise involving a Royal Navy helicopter and several warships. Further information on the names of the ships visiting Liverpool for BOA70 and times when they are open to visit will be released very shortly.

A Veterans Welcome Centre will also be open all weekend from 12-4pm at the Port of Liverpool Building. Veterans and a guest can take some time away from the hustle and bustle of the Pier Head and enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit served by the City of Liverpool Sea Cadets.

Other highlights include:

Saturday 25 May
• At 11.30am veterans and their families are invited to gather at the Cunard Building, where a procession led by Chinese lion dancers, Indian drummers and troops from the Polish community (representing the nationalities which made up crew on merchant and royal navy vessels) will head to the Merchant Navy memorial on the Pier Head for a poignant wreath-laying ceremony.
• Just after 1.30pm a Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft will fly over the waterfront in a Battle of Britain memorial flight. (Please note, this is weather dependent)
• The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines will join local artists in a sold-out concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

Sunday 26 May
• A private commemorative service will take place at the Anglican Cathedral, followed by a parade at 12.30pm, which includes platoons from the Merchant Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Regulars, Reservists and Cadets from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. The route is along Rodney Street, Mount Pleasant, Hope Street, down Upper Duke Street finishing at the Anglican Cathedral.

Monday 27 May
• Organised by the 156 Transport Regiment, around 15 teams made up of ships’ companies and guest visitors including the Merseyside Fire Service will take part in a fun raft race in Salthouse Dock at 1pm.
• A sold-out 40s themes veterans party at St George’s Hall.

Tuesday 28 May
• From 2pm the fleet of vessels will sail out of the city in a spectacular co-ordinated departure.

Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for culture and tourism, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “It is a real honour for Liverpool to be the national focus of these 70th anniversary commemorations.

“When it comes to maritime events, Liverpool excels. We’re expecting around 250,000 visitors, and whatever the weather, the city will shine.

“Working in partnership with the Royal and Merchant navies, we are proud to have developed a huge programme consisting of well over 100 events. These will not only be a tribute to those who took part in the Battle of Atlantic, but will also appeal to people of all ages, entertaining them but also teaching them about the sacrifices made for the lives of future generations.”

Rear Admiral Chris Hockley, Flag Officer Regional Forces, said: “Liverpool is absolutely the right place for the national focus on commemorating the Battle of the Atlantic on its 70th anniversary.

“It was the home of the Western Approaches operations room and the receiver of over 1000 convoys, together with ship repair and building activity in support.

“The events planned over the weekend of May 24-28 – the time in 1943 recognised as being the turning point for this long and drawn out battle – will provide a fantastic opportunity for the public to engage with, and learn more about, those who made such a vital contribution, including Merchant and Royal Navy veterans.”

Chairman of the Liverpool Retired Merchant Seafarers Association, Pat Moran, said: “Liverpool took the men and women of every maritime nation to crew her ships, particularly from the Commonwealth and Empire.

“It is the achievements of these men and women and Liverpool’s own sons and daughters that the cavalcade will celebrate. If you love Liverpool and the people who made her great you must come and take part.”

Merseyside engineering firm Cammell Laird is the main sponsor of Battle of the Atlantic 70th Anniversary commemoration weekend.

For full details of all the events taking place, the location and times visit www.itsliverpool.com/culture and click on ‘On the Waterfront’.

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